By Ronald Bailey (SMDC/ARSTRAT)October 24, 2018
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama -- Ladies and Gentlemen, it is U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command Workforce Wednesday. Meet Staff Sgt. Cheryl Skabialka, an information systems specialist for U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command and a member of the Commander's Communication Team. We asked her to share a little more about herself.
PAO: Where are you from originally?
Skabialka: I'm an "Army Brat." I was born in Nuremburg, Germany, but grew up all over the world.
PAO: How many years have you served in the Army?
Skabialka: I've been in the Army for 12 years.
PAO: What did you do before you joined the Army?
Skabialka: I attended college but I also worked at a local Huntsville TV station. I was originally hired as a graphics artist but learned many other aspects of a working TV station.
PAO: What or who influenced your decision to join the Army?
Skabialka: Joining the Army never seemed to be a question. Other kids would say "I want to be..." and whatever their dream was. I always said "I WILL be a Soldier."
PAO: So you are not only a 25B, but a part of the Commander's Communication Team. What does that entail?
Skabialka: The CG is constantly on the move across the U.S. and abroad. Our basic mission is to provide him the ability to communicate via secure and non-secure means no matter where he is. That might be in another command headquarters in the U.S. or quite literally in a field in the middle of nowhere half way around the globe. We must provide working communication equipment and the uplinks to make that happen.
PAO: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being an information systems specialist?
Skabialka: The challenge for all 25Bs is to possess a broad base of knowledge required for the numerous information and communication systems in the Army but still have enough expertise on each individual system to be able to operate, troubleshoot and maintain all those systems.
PAO: What is the most common misconception about what 25Bs do?
Skabialka: If there is any misconception it is that if electricity runs through it, we understand it and can fix it. I've been asked to fix everything from generators to copiers to fax machines, etc.
PAO: What part of your job gives you the most satisfaction?
Skabialka: I actually enjoy the little minutia of my daily work. I like hitting the small things before they compound into large problems. If I can solve small problems early, it potentially saves us and others hours or even days' worth of effort later.
PAO: What advice would you give to younger Soldiers to succeed in the Army?
Skabialka: Soldiers must be flexible and willing to take on tasks outside your normal scope of responsibility. Even if doing something is not your job, you can learn from that experience. Also, if you know something needs to get done, don't wait to be told to do it. Be proactive. Tell your supervisor you've identified something and would like to take care of it.
PAO: Off duty, what interests do you have?
Skabialka: I'm a voracious reader, a lot of it being science fiction. I particularly enjoy vintage sci-fi because I like to see what people in the past thought the future would look like, and to see if they were correct or way off in their predictions.
PAO: Early in your career, who was a major influence that impacted your development as an NCO and a 25B?
Skabialka: Earlier in my career a Chief Warrant Officer Bickle impressed me very much. I was newly assigned to the unit and didn't have much experience. At the time I arrived, the unit was in the field and CW2 Bickle stayed behind to rebuild some 50 pieces of communication equipment. Rather than have me perform menial tasks because I was new, he immediately put me to work on that equipment with him. He was not willing to let me say I couldn't do it. I learned so much from that experience and it gave me confidence to take on other challenging tasks in the future.
PAO: Most of your previous assignments have been with line units and headquarters mainly comprising Soldiers. At the SMDC/ARSTRAT headquarters, the vast majority of your coworkers are civilians. What is it like working mostly with Department of the Army civilians and contractors?
Skabialka: I've noticed that my civilian coworkers have an amazing depth of knowledge. They tend to have years, if not decades of knowledge on the systems and missions. Soldiers like me tend to be more generalist in nature while my coworkers tend to be very much specialists knowing things like the back of their hand. Civilians tend to have lanes of specialization with lots of historical background and experience. Working as a team sometimes requires socialization so all of the lanes of expertise between the Soldiers and civilians merge toward a common goal. It is great to see when it all comes together.